Skip to content The Open University

Faculty of Social Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Jacqui Gabb

Dr Jacqui Gabb

Associate Dean (Research)

Social Policy and Criminology


Before joining The Open University I worked in the Centre for Applied Childhood Studies (University of Huddersfield), the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (University of Leeds) and the Department of Sociology and Gender Studies (University of Hull). I started academic life in the School of Media (University of Humberside).

I am Co-Editor of the Open Space section in 'Families, Relationships, Societies', a new international journal published by Policy Press.

I am a Co-Director (with Dr Janet Fink) of the Families, Relationships and Communities Programme which is part of the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG).

Other recent roles in professional associations include: Chair of the Editorial Board for the journal Sociological Research Online (2008-2011), co-convenor of the BSA Families and Relationships Study Group (2008-2011) and an Executive Committee Member for the Feminist and Women's Studies Association (2007-2010).


PhD Women's Studies/Sociology (York); MA Women's Studies; BA (Hons) Film & Television Studies

Course development and teaching

My teaching time at The Open University is focused on the development and production of postgraduate curriculum, particularly research methods. I was Module Team Chair (production) of Introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods (D849).

I have been module team chair of Investigating the Psychological World (D821), Investigating the Social World (D822) and Family Meanings (D270), and a module team member of Research methods dissertation in social sciences (D845). I also contributed to the third level sociological module Making Social Worlds (DD308) - writing the chapter on 'Family Attachments' in one of the core texts.

Research interests

I am interested in exploring interdisciplinary approaches for researching and theorizing relationships, with particular interests in the areas of families, personal relationships, intimacy, emotions, sexuality and gender. I also have established interests in the areas of qualitative mixed methods and sensitive topic research.

I am currently working on an ESRC-funded investigation of the experiences and understandings of long-term couple relationships Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21st Century (RES-063-23-3056). The Principal Investigators for this project are myself with Co-PI Dr Janet Fink, supported by researchers Dr Martina Klett-Davies and Dr Tam Sanger. The project is a mixed methods investigation into long-term adult couple relationships in contemporary Britain.

This project build on the methodology and findings of a previous ESRC-funded project Behind Closed Doors (RES-000-220854) which utilized a combination of interdisciplinary and innovatory methods to examine practices of intimacy in families.

Working with colleagues Esther Dermott (University of Bristol) and Brid Featherstone (Open University). I am also completing a pilot project funded by the British Academy Fragile Fathering: Negotiating Intimacy and Risk in parenting practice (SG110454).

I am a member of two research centres at The Open University: the Centre for Citizenship, Identity and Governance (CCIG), and the ERSC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), theme 4, Cultural Values and Politics.

PhD supervision

Two Charter Studentships are affiliated to the Enduring Love? research project. I am co-supervising both of these students. Thierry Chessum is researching the experiences of older men in long-term couple relationships. Danni Pearson is researching young same-sex couples in long-term relationships. Her studentship is sponsored by Relate.

I welcome applications from new students in areas related to my research interests including studies on families, personal relationships, intimacy, emotions, sexuality and gender.

Recent publications

A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.


J Gabb (2008) 'Researching Intimacy in Families'. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 211pp, ISBN 978-0-230-52722-5

Winner of the 2009 BSA Philip Abrams Memorial prize for the best sole-authored first book in sociology in the UK. Second edition published 2010, including new foreword.

Journal articles

Gabb J. (forthcoming) 'Embodying risk: managing father–child intimacy and the display of nudity in families', Sociology

Gabb J. (2011) 'Family Lives and Relational Living: Taking Account of Otherness' Sociological Research Online, Vol. 16 (4), 2011

Gabb J. and E. B. Silva (2011) 'Introduction to Critical Concepts: Families, Intimacies and Personal Relationships', Sociological Research Online Vol. 16 (4), 2011

Gabb J. (2010) 'Home Truths: Ethical Issues in Family Research', Qualitative Research, Vol. 10(4): 461-478.

Gabb J. (2009) 'Researching Family Relationships: A Qualitative Mixed Methods Approach', Methodological Innovations Online, Vol. 4(2): 37-52.

Gabb J. (2005) 'Victoria Climbié Inquiry Data Corpus Project: Using the Delphi Method in Multidisciplinary Child Protection Research', British Journal of Social Work, Vol. 36(4): 1-20.

Gabb J. (2005)* 'Locating Lesbian Parent Families', Gender, Place, Culture. Vol. 12(4): 419-432. *Reprinted in C. Weidmer and S. Hardy (eds.) (2006) Motherhood and Space. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gabb J. (2005) 'Lesbian Motherhood: Strategies of familial-linguistic management in lesbian parent families', Sociology, Vol. 39(4): 385-603.

Gabb J. (2004) '"I could eat my baby to bits". Passion and desire in lesbian mother-children love', Gender, Place Culture. Special issue on Emotional Geographies, Vol. 11(3): 399-415.

Gabb J. (2004)* 'Imagining the Queer Lesbian Family', A. O'Reilly (ed.), Mother Outlaws. Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press, pp.123-130. *Reprint of Gabb J. (1999) Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering. Vol. 1(2): 9-20.

Gabb J. (2004) 'Critical Differentials: Querying the contrarieties between research on lesbian parent families', Sexualities, Vol. 7(2): 171-187.

Gabb J. (2004) 'Sexuality Education: how children of lesbian mothers "learn" about sex/uality', Sex Education. Vol. 4(1): 19-34.

Book chapters

'Troubling Displays: The Affect of Gender, Sexuality and Class' in E. Dermott and J. Seymour (Eds.) (2011) Displaying Families, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 38-60.

'The Affect of Methods' in S. Hines and Y. Taylor (Eds.) (2011) Sexualities: Reflections and Futures, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 32-51. Reprint of chapter 6 in Gabb (2008) Researching Intimacy in Families.

'Qualitative Research on LGBT-families: Innovation and Possibilities' in A. E. Goldberg and K. R. Allen (Eds.) (2012) LGBT-Parent Families: Innovations in Research and Implications for Practice, New York: Springer: 324-342.

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Last updated: 16 August 2013